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Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Representatives from the Federal Trade Commission canceled a planned visit to South Texas College of Law to interview students for summer clerkships because the FTC’s budget was so tight they didn’t have the funds to travel from Dallas to the Houston campus. The college’s career services folks weren’t deterred. Thanks to modern technology, they found a way to have face-to-face interviews — more or less — through videoconferencing, hooking up about a dozen South Texas law students with FTC attorneys 250 miles away in Dallas. Both sides were able to see each other during the Oct. 28 interviews. The tight economy and travel difficulties produced mixed results during the annual fall recruiting at some law schools. Several of the law schools in Texas saw fewer recruiters on campus but still connected students with summer jobs after conducting phone interviews and reviewing Internet applications. However, the same number of — and some say even more — recruiters showed up at other Lone Star State law schools in past years. At South Texas, the long-distance hookup earned high marks from interviewees and interviewers. Rodolfo “Rudy” Ramirez, one of about a dozen students who was interviewed, says the process was better than a phone interview and the next-best thing to being there. “It was a lot more personal and a lot more convenient,” the second-year student says of the videoconference. “You were able to see their reaction.” Fellow 2L student Raven Dusek also liked the long-distance hookup. “I’ve had phone interviews in the past, and it was kind of difficult,” she says. “You don’t get to see their expressions.” Steve Weart, assistant director of the FTC Southwest Regional Office in Dallas and one of the interviewers, says the South Texas College of Law sessions marked the first time he’s participated in interviews by videoconference. The process went smoothly, he says. “We have budget constraints, yet we still want to do interviews with law students to hire them for summer clerkships,” he says. “This is a way we thought might help us do a lot of interviews and stay within our budget.” Marcie Rhodes, recruiting coordinator at South Texas’ career resources office, says more employers came to campus this year than last, but the flow of job offers has slowed. The college considered buying a plane ticket for the FTC interviewer but instead arranged videoconferencing to avoid setting a precedent with other potential employers, she says. “The economy is definitely having an effect on things,” Rhodes says. Fewer representatives from firms visited Texas Wesleyan University School of Law in Fort Worth and St. Mary’s University School of Law in San Antonio this year, partly because of a changeover in the personnel in the career services offices about the time recruiting invitations were going out. Students still are finding jobs, though, school officials say. Katherine Chapman, assistant dean of Wesleyan’s career services and alumni relations, says courts and state and federal agencies showed up to recruit and some firms took part in interviews by mail. Despite the emphasis on on-campus interviews, Chapman says, most students find summer and permanent jobs through other means, such as Internet connections or visits to firms. At the University of Texas School of Law, 192 employers showed up at the Austin campus this fall to recruit summer clerks, the same number as last year. Only one employer conducted interviews by videoconference, compared to three last year, when traveling was more difficult in the aftermath of Sept. 11, says Andrea Schlafer, coordinator of the on-campus interviews at the law school. Representatives from approximately 100 firms traveled to Baylor Law School in Waco, an increase from last fall, says Katherine Logue, director of career services. Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law had a slight increase up to approximately 45 employers. The University of Houston Law Center greeted about 110 employers, a slight decrease this year, Kathryn Bernal, assistant dean for career services, says. In Lubbock, 63 firms and agencies sent representatives to interview at Texas Tech University School of Law, a slight drop. Eighty-three employers visited Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law in Dallas this fall. Last year, 82 firms and agencies were slated to interview on campus, but eight canceled their visits, Assistant Dean Kelly Noblin says.

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